Neoproterozoic time: Ediacaran fauna

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The diorama showing Neoproterozoic Ediacaran fauna is from a textbook published in 1994. The jellyfish in this painting were thought by some scientists to be the makers of the discoid fossils like cyclomedusa to the right.

There are still more questions than answers about these odd creatures. They have been compared to air mattresses and lichens in their body structure. For most of the organisms, affinities are still speculative. However, very recent discoveries show that Ediacaran fauna survived until at least 510 million years ago, through the Neoproterozoic-Cambrian boundary. Excellent body fossil found Namibia and Russia have revealed probable ancestors to mollusc's and possible makers of complex traces.

Painting from Evolution of the Earth, 1994 edition, credited to the Smithsonian Institute.
Photo from Discover, March, 1997.